I wrote a post to the Glasgow Herald comments page yesterday (Monday) and in it I was very complimentary about Bob Crow The leader of the RMT union. I described him as being in the tradition of Arthur Scargill, Mick Mc Gahy, Len McCluskey and Jimmy Airlie, men of the utmost integrity and true warriors for the working class. It’s now Tuesday at 12.28 pm and I read an hour ago that Bob Crow had died of a heart attack, I am reeling at the news, firstly because he was a man I admired greatly and also because of the coincidence of writing about him less than 24 hours ago, the fact that his death was so sudden and him not being unwell adds to the shock.
Some of the names I have mentioned above were members of the Labour party and some were not but I regarded all of them as union brothers and political comrades, never enemies, opponents occasionally but never enemies. Crow was a giant, intellectually, politically and physically as well, he was very popular with his union members not least because they enjoy good wages and working conditions because of his efforts on their behalf, but also because they knew he was 100% on their side and he would never ever sell them out just like the people I mentioned above. One of my great pleasures in recent years was to watch Bob Crow on TV or listen to him being interviewed on the radio, he was quite simply brilliant. The last one I saw was between him and Andrew Neil who joined the growing band of political journalists who could not land a glove on him, that is not meant to be demeaning to Mr. Neil who is tough, able and rather good at what he does. That interview was like most others with Crow a walk in the park, Neil smart guy that he is recognised that he would not get the better of him and ended up turning it in to a jovial good natured encounter. At one juncture Neil slyly put up a picture of Crow lying on a Brazilian beach on holiday in an attempt to show him in a bad light with his members, the suggestion being that his members could not afford such luxury. Crow quite calmly and politely suggested that he would discuss holidays etc. with Neil if Neil agreed to answer Crow’s questions about his wages and holidays etc. which made me wonder why other interviewees do not do something similar, Neil was stumped but was wise enough to take it on the chin rather show himself in a bad light by becoming churlish at the big bruiser’s audacity.
I wish our union leaders and our politicians of the left would try to emulate people like Bob Crow he represented everything a good union leader should be. Tough, uncompromising, honest and diligent in pursuit of his members interests and not afraid to speak out politically in defence of the working classes. I sincerely hope his successor carries on where Bob left off.